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Ralph and I have been busy activating parks in the Parks on the air program. We used to only do the summits on the air but as the years have passed the climb has become a bit much. A few summits are still easy walks and so we continue to activate them each year. Unfortunately, they only count for points once per calendar year, we would do more if they were available more often. Today we set out to Chilliwack Mountain. This summit has a park around the summit area though the actual peak is a private property. The park area just below the summit offers a lovely viewpoint facing south. This view offers some spectacular views of the valley, and the border mountains, including the Cheam Range. It is therefore a moderately visited location.
Ralph arrived at my home a bit after 10am and we set out for the summit. Being early we opted to start with a coffee today rather than get one after. We made decent time along the country roads but once on the freeway things slowed to a crawl in a few places along the route. Too many people traveling to the states and vacation spots! We eventually turned off the highway onto Lickman road and made for the Chilliwack Mountain Road which turns into Old Orchard road at the point we turn off it onto Grand View Drive. That takes to the top of the mountain. One last turn onto Hillkeep Place and we soon reach the parking area for Hillkeep Park.
After stretching our legs for a moment, we loaded up our packs and started out along a roadway to the viewpoint trail. It is a short walk, around 350m. But it is a pleasant walk to enjoy a touch of fresh country air. When we arrived at the viewpoint it was unoccupied. At the viewpoint, Ralph uses the park bench next to the platform to layout his gear. I set up on the view platform. Today I brought my new 30 foot mast with me. I took only the bigger sections which would be able to support my yagi. It raised the height of the yagi to around 13 feet. That would be a good improvement over a walking pole.
Setting up the mast was easy as the railing of the viewing platform provided a good place to secure the pole. I soon had the mast secured and the yagi mounted. Raising it to the height was very quick and easy. Then it was to the hard part – trying to reach people on the VHF calling frequency. Normally on a summit in the valley this goes quite easily but on this summit one is on the wrong side of the peak and therefore limited in where one can reach. I was able to get the first five contacts in short order and being a SOTA activation one needed only four. So, I was already complete in a bit over five minutes of calling. This included a chap on a summit in Washington state which gave me a summit-to-summit contact.
I continued calling and started eating my lunch as well. By 12:20pm and 20 minutes of calling I had 8 contacts logged. I gave it a bit of a rest at this point as I was not hearing anyone else. Meanwhile a mother and son came by to enjoy the view for a few minutes. I resumed calling and reorienting the yagi to see if I could reach hams in different directions. I did eventually reach another station, this one was on the Olympic Peninsula. My signal was getting out but I guess people just aren’t listening to that channel much anymore. After 50 minutes of operating, Ralph felt he had enough with his 14 contacts and so we packed up. The short walk back was just right for the cool day.
I was quite pleased with the new mast; it extends quite easily and provides a good sturdy pole for the yagi. The height is just enough to reduce ground losses that normally occur when using my walking stick. The view today was a bit obscured by the haze in the valley which was being worsened by the wildfires. Still, one could see the peaks across the valley and enjoy their majesty. The drive home was faster than on the way out as we had less congestion on the highway going west. A pleasant activation with just enough walking to feel like we were in the backcountry.